Ogunde Yet To Get State Honour 26 Year After – Children | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Ogunde Yet To Get State Honour 26 Year After – Children

Posted: Apr 9, 2016 at 3:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

No doubt one of the biggest dramatist to ever walk the African continent is the late Pa Hubert Adedeji Ogunde. His work on stage and in the motion picture industry had earned him acclaim both at home and abroad. He however passed on 26 years ago this week and the family especially his children continue to remember him.

Speaking with one of his children, Dayo Ogunde, she says she continues to miss her father and count herself lucky to be the daughter of such a great legend. “We thank God for the love he left among the children. Despite our numbers he showed us all love and he made sure that we all live in unity. Till today, there is peace amongst the children.”

Since his death there has been talks that a museum that will be erected in the name of Hubert Ogunde, but there has been many false starts and disappointments to the project. Dayo speaks more on the project, “The Federal and State government has been making so much noise and no action since he died. From the military days till date they promised to build the museum, rebuild the film village already in existent, monuments, named the cultural centre after him and all. Nothing was done.”

However, Governor Gbenga Daniel during his tenure commissioned a monument in Ogunde’s name but there was no financial commitment to maintain the monument. “We also launched all his musicals into CDs and all the South West governors were presented including the Obas. They all promised heaven and earth but it was only one of them that redeemed his pledge. Even Daniel our state governor did not redeem his pledge till he left office,” said Dayo.

?After 25 years the family decided to go ahead with the museum where all his costumes, drums, personal effects, photos, props, and films can be seen. Everything is well preserved in his hometown in Ososa. ?

The children however promise to move on with their own plan to immortalise the legend. “We commissioned the monument and the CD at the 23rd anniversary. The museum at the 25th anniversary. So the next plan is now is the film village. It is a Huge project but we will get it done,” said Dayo.

Hubert Ogunde before his death was a playwright, theatre manager, and musician who founded the Ogunde Concert Party in 1945 and is believed to be the first professional theatrical company in Nigeria. He has been described as the father of Nigerian theatre, or the father of contemporary Yoruba theatre”. Ogunde starred in Mister Johnson, the 1990 motion picture that also featured Pierce Brosnan. The movie was shot on location in Toro, Bauchi State.

Ogunde was born in Ososa, near Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State, Nigeria to the family of Jeremiah and Eunice Ogunde. As a youth, he was part of the performers of Egun Alarinjo and Daramola Atele’s traveling theatre group. After his elementary education, he worked as a teacher and part time Church choirmaster and organist before joining the Nigerian police force.

He produced his first folk opera, The Garden of Eden and The Throne of God, commissioned by the Lagos-based Church of the Lord founded by Josiah Ositelu. The performance was in aid of the Church building fund. The huge success of the production spurred Ogunde on to writing more operas until he decided to leave his amateur status as an artist and turn professional. He founded Ogunde

The first play featured at Ogunde Theatre was entitled Tiger’s Empire. Premiered on 4 March 1946, Tiger’s Empire was produced by The African Music Research Party and featured Ogunde, Beatrice Oyede and Abike Taiwo. The advertisement for the play was the result of Ogunde’s call for “paid actresses”. It marked the first time in Yoruba theatre that women were billed to appear in a play as professional artists in Light in their own right. Tiger’s Empire was an attack on colonial rule.

He also produced two important plays like Yoruba Ronu and Otitokoro which refer to the political events in the western Nigeria and which led to the declaration of the state of emergency in 1963. He was the most prominent of the dramatist of the folk opera. He composed over 40 operas in Yoruba. His play Yoruba Ronu (Yoruba Think) was a satirical account of the strife that plagued Yorubas in the 1960s. It was banned in western Nigeria for sometime but was produced with great success in other parts of the country.

Ogunde married twelve wives. The eldest of his wives Clementina Oguntimirin later became known as Adesewa Ogunde or Mama Eko as she was popularly known by her fans in the 1960s, after taking the leading part in the popular play of that name. She had five children for him. The two senior girls, Tokunbo and Tope, are now leading members of the company. Ogunde became the leading producer of Yoruba celluloid movies, with hits like J’ayesinmi and Aiye.